This beautiful product, made in the U.S. from sustainable and recycled materials, is my smartest office purchase to date.
When I first started working as a professional writer, I used an 11-inch MacBook Air to write my articles. It was tiny, but it did the job. As my role expanded at TreeHugger and I started writing more hours each day, I realized that the Air wasn’t going to cut it any longer. Last fall I invested in a desktop computer with a screen nearly two times larger – an amazing luxury.
But, as the months went by, I found myself not wanting to use the beautiful iMac in my office because I wasn’t comfortable sitting in front of it. For the first time in my life, I was confined to specific location by having a desktop computer, and no matter how I adjusted my chair, I felt like I was craning my neck improperly, my back ached at the end of each day, and I felt terribly sleepy by mid-afternoon from lack of movement. I found myself returning to my old Air, with its keys worn down from constant typing.
Someone suggested a standing desk – an idea that appealed greatly to me, except for the fact that I love my desk, a handmade, live-edge oak table made by my father. I experimented with rigging up my own versions of a standing desk, using stacks of books and boxes, but it felt precarious and took forever to dismantle if I felt like sitting down.
That’s when I discovered the CrossOver, an ingenious invention by U.S. company Next Desk (whose Encore standing desk I reviewed in 2015 but was unable to purchase). The CrossOver is a small tabletop that sits on top of a pre-existing work surface. It has digital controls that allow it to be adjusted from standing to seated in just a few seconds.
I purchased a CrossOver in early February and, from the day I started using it, I haven’t sat down once! Suddenly my iMac has become my go-to computer. I am comfortable standing in front of it, eyes level with the top of the screen, and I move constantly while standing on my feet. This has the added bonus of keeping me warmer in my attic office (I used to find that sitting still for hours reduced circulation in my body and left me feeling very chilled) and staying far more alert throughout a long day of writing. I’ve even ditched my post-lunch coffee since the CrossOver arrived.
The CrossOver is manufactured in the United States, its tabletop made from fast-growing bamboo that's free from formaldehyde and other solvents. I chose the medium-colored bamboo, which blends in perfectly with my own oak desk. At first glance, it’s hard to tell a difference. Next Desk says on its website:
“Bamboo is the most easily replenished and sustainable material on the planet. Forty percent harder than oak and 2.5 times more dimensionally stable, bamboo provides an ideal writing surface.”
The frame is made of recycled aluminum, which uses 95 percent less energy than producing new aluminum. It is possible to downgrade (for $47 less) to a steel frame made of virgin material, but I preferred the idea of using a recycled product, so stayed with the standard choice. The frame feels very solid and heavy; it only weighs 40 lbs, but can support 100 lbs. There is almost no movement of the tabletop when the desk is in the standing position, no matter how rapidly or aggressively I type.
I opted to upgrade to the CrossOver Pro (an additional $50), which provides a second lower work surface to accommodate a keyboard and mouse. If I ever returned to full-time laptop use, this part could be removed to keep everything at the same height.
It was fairly easy to assemble, although a few of the screw holes seemed very tight and needed an electric screwdriver to force them in. (You’re supposed to be able to do it all with tools provided.) It took me about an hour to do the whole job from start to finish.
At risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I can’t help but say this product has changed my work life completely. I love it every single day, and wish I had found it much earlier to avoid the discomfort and fatigue I experienced for several months.
The CrossOver starts at US $447 (with recycled aluminum frame) and can be financed monthly, if needed. It comes with a five-year warranty. While still not cheap, it’s comparable to other adjustable work stations on the market and is, in my opinion, far more attractive than most. Plus, it boasts American production and sustainable materials, which is always worth prioritizing.
Update: In late 2017 NextDesk rebranded as XDesk.